In November, the Atlanta Silverbacks announced a partnership with the Atlanta Silverbacks FC Trust that will bring fan ownership to soccer in Atlanta. The ASFC Trust have the opportunity to purchase 25% of the club and earn a seat on the Board of Directors.
Their goal is to raise $100,000 by selling shares of the trust to soccer fans in the area and around the world. A share in the ASFC Trust entitles members to one vote in all Trust decisions and will be renewed annually. The Trust will have elected officers to represent the organization and sit on the Silverbacks’ Board of Directors. Currently, the board includes President Paul Scanling, Secretary Florian Bauer, and Treasurer Kreg Thornley.
The announcement was a big turn in the public relationship between the Trust and the club. Supporters had looked into forming a trust in 2015 when the then NASL club was looking for a new owner, and again in 2016 when they sought to float a Silverbacks development squad in the ADASL. Communication broke down between the two parties in August of 2016 with supporters citing broken promises from club ownership. The fallout between supporters and club ownership led to an uneasy tension that hung over the Silverbacks’ 2017 season.
By welcoming supporter ownership, the Silverbacks will differentiate themselves from mainstream soccer in the United States. Partial fan-ownership is common in Europe and required by clubs participating in the German Bundesliga. Household names FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, and cult-favorite FC United of Manchester are completely fan-owned.
In the United States, the Silverbacks will join the likes of Minneapolis City SC (NPSL), San Francisco City FC (PDL), and Seattle Sounders 2 (USL) as clubs that are partially fan-owned. Shortly after the Silverbacks’ announcement, Oakland County FC of the United Premier Soccer League announced a similar opportunity for their supporters.
Once the 2018 season begins, the Trust will provide volunteers for game-day operations and set up shops at the stadium to sell Silverbacks merchandise. Money raised from those ventures will be funnelled back into the club.
In order to reach their goal of raising $100,000, the Trust are offering three membership packages. Local membership starts at $100 for an individual or $250 for a family/group of four. According to President Paul Scanling, the Trust is making good progress.
“Membership is growing and [at] a good pace,” said Scanling. But growing their membership isn’t the Trust’s only project this offseason as he detailed saying, “We are in conversations with businesses and organizations about sponsorships.” Furthermore, he added, “We are looking forward to more home matches this coming season including some short road trips.”
The Trust needs 1,000 individuals, 400 families, or some combination of the two to meet their goal. Packages are available on the Trust’s website: asfctrust.org